Steam rose off the clear blue of the pool as the sun climbed from the deep horizon into the sky.
Back and forth, my hands pulled the water to advance down the lane, breathing in the deep morning coolness, the brink of summer in its absolute depths. The sunrise was liquid gold agains the shimmering water.
I love this time of year so very much.
This is only the second year I’ve done Master Swim in Huntington Woods, but I wait for it as the months grow warmer as children await their birthday or Christmas. And then, six weeks of early morning swims with an incredible and kind coach, over before I can blink.
This year, Sean is extending into evening master swim for three weeks after we finish mornings next Thursday. I can’t believe I am already glimpsing the end and will have to wait another year for this exhilaration.
I can swim during the cold months in Michigan indoors, but it’s not the same. Whatever pool I land in is usually warmer than I want it to be and my companions are kind elderly folks who move slowly through the water. I slow, too, from the heat and the blandness of swimming alone, staring at the same interior walls.
At Master Swim, clouds roll across the early morning sky. I recite words of gratitude again and again from the minute I wake up, through every lap, until I climb out of the pool, tired in the best way, that way of feeling the power and strength of a good life, of all I am capable of, of the gifts of this body.
When I turn my head to take a breath, I smell the fragrance of pines and evergreen, of grass and soil damp from the night. The quiet is essential, inspiring. And the fact that some 40 of us come out every morning to do this, together, is invigorating, too.
Swimming inside is getting a workout in. Master Swim is a community of people seeking to do more, be more, in their lives.
Perhaps I’m being dramatic, but this is truly how I feel. So lucky. So incredibly lucky.
To swim in the early mornings so that I can barely sleep, eager as can be to hop out of bed and pull on my swimsuit and jump into the water as if for the first time.
This summer, I am rowing in the evenings and that, too, is exhilaration. Gift. Wonder.
There comes a time in each piece when I’m pulling the oar back and sliding forward on the recovery when the green water glimmers like a shimmering surface ablaze with the sparkle of jewels, and I am mesmerized, my body moving, my soul at peace, just truly being.
The water does it to me. Allows me to be fully inhabiting this existence, body, mind and spirit all intertwined and at perfect peace. No questions, no anxiety, no wonder. Just loving the moment and the fact that I am alive in it.
This morning a woman in my lane swam the butterfly toward me and I noticed how incredibly beautiful it is, a person lifting out of the water, gulping a fresh breath, the sparkle of the water drops all around, and then diving back beneath, to experience it again. And again. And again.
In a life so full of obligations, responsibilities and structure, these moments of pure peace are gifts from heaven. This is the truth of life. The times we wander into existence so pure that we are bereft of all the problems we create in the human world.
This is the point of life. To experience, to taste, to live in serenity, to wish well on everyone around.
So when a lane-mate asked who wanted to watch the time to make sure we adhered to the very rules of the set this morning, I simply smiled, shrugged and said, “I’m just going to swim my best.”
No need to count time. No need to race. Just doing my best.